Connecticut leaders weigh in on CVS/Aetna merger

HARTFORD --  Connecticut leaders are beginning to weigh in on CVS's acquisition of Hartford-based Aetna for $69 billion dollars, announced Sunday.

"I'm digesting the news," said Senator Richard Blumenthal at a press conference Monday afternoon. Blumenthal said the Department of Justice needs to scrutinize the deal to make sure consumers will actually benefit. "That's the key question - whether or not there is a potential for anti-competitive, anti-consumer effect," said Blumenthal.

Senator Chris Murphy also expressed reservations.

"I am certainly concerned about news of this merger," Murphy told FOX61 on Monday. "My focus is going to be on protecting jobs."

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin sees the deal as an opportunity.

"My hope is that Hartford remains the center of gravity for the insurance operations of his new merged company," said Bronin.

In June, Aetna announced it is moving its headquarters to New York City, but said the vast majority of its 6,000 jobs will stay in Connecticut. Bronin says he has spoken to Aetna executives since news of the deal broke, and said they have reassured him that their commitments to Hartford remains in place.

Because the merger is a vertical one between two companies not offering the same services, Bronin does not anticipate significant job loss.

"Aetna and CVS are two very different companies," said Bronin. "They do different things. I think we have a little less reason to fear tremendous job cuts because there's not as much redundancy."

FOX61 asked Aetna about the future of its Connecticut jobs. In a statement, company spokesperson T.J. Crawford said:

"With regard to Connecticut employees, keep in mind that the Aetna-CVS transaction is based on expansion, not contraction.  Aetna will operate as a separate business unit within CVS Health, and the work of Aetna’s employees will be needed to fulfill the vision of the combined company. In the months ahead, we’ll develop integration plans that will affect certain positions, but no decisions have been made at this point."

Metro Hartford Alliance CEO and President Oz Griebel sees the deal as making two New England-based companies stronger, together. CVS Health is based out of Rhode Island. "The idea of taking two very powerful, robust, well-respected companies and leveraging them, I think, is very exciting," said Griebel.

Griebel said there will likely be some short-term pain as a result of the deal, but that the focus needs to be on the long-term.

"I think there are some exciting things down the road with this transaction."

The deal does need approval from anti-trust regulators, including the Connecticut Insurance Department, which says it will thoroughly review the proposed transaction. ​